Sadly, Girardi's tater does not travel through the hole in the Kentucky Fried Chicken ad in left centerfield, a feat for which a player wins $1,000 from KFC. "I don't think we'll have to worry about that happening," says minor league hitting instructor Darrell Evans, looking out from the dugout toward the fence. The hole is 20 feet off the ground. It is 395 feet from the plate. It is the size of a grapefruit.
On the fourth day, Tucson was trashed.
The good news on the clubhouse message board today (YOU GET PAID + YOU GOT HOT WATER) means that all the Rockies will smell good when they retire after dinner to their rooms at the Viscount Suites hotel (WELCOME COLORADO ROCKIES/ LUNCH BUFFET $6.95). For, truth be told, Tucson when the sun goes down is not Monte Carlo. Nonetheless, none of the Rockies complain, perhaps in deference to nonroster invitee Jim Olander, who was born and raised and still resides in Tucson.
Olander, who turned 30 yesterday, fractured his left knee while playing for Triple A Denver last spring. Doctors repaired the injury with bone grafts from his right hip. Thus, even while Olander competes for a job in the Rockies' outfield, the handicapped plates are still valid.
Anyway, if Olander and his teammates are not complaining about the slow pace of the Old Pueblo, well, debauchery-seeking sportswriters are another story. Which is why, today, Denver Post columnist Woody Paige writes a screed against Tucson to be published in tomorrow's paper, which is sold in Tucson, and which will set off small flares of protest here, and which we in no way endorse by excerpting. In the piece Paige describes a conversation he had with a Tucson convenience-store clerk, who was asked what the store's best-selling product is. "Depends," said the clerk.
"Depends on what?"
"No," said the clerk. "Depends."
On the fifth clay, Baylor banned beards.
When Don Baylor bans beards, the radio announcers consider electrolysis. Baylor is a good and fair man, but he is, as they say out here, one tough hombre. He tells the fully assembled team today that the Rockies will not be intimidated by the established clubs. "I don't hold these guys to any higher standard," Baylor says later, "than I held myself to as a player." And Baylor did not have a beard as a player. He probably couldn't grow one, given the number of depilatory fastballs he saw on the way to becoming major league baseball's alltime hit-by-pitch leader.
Smith, who was 4-2 for the St. Louis Cardinals last year, has worn a beard since 1985. He shaved it off for one game in 1990 and was promptly spot-welded for seven runs in about as many minutes. So the Baylor beard ban, which takes effect today, is a bad sign. A light bulb went on above Smith's bald head as he watched his whiskers fall into the sink this morning. "I was going to keep it and try to transplant it," he says of his fallen facial foliage. "But it all went down the drain." Sigh.